By Gena Kittner
For many, Thanksgiving is spent rushing across town, gulping down multiple turkey dinners, and indulging in various varieties of pie.
Not at our house. My husband, daughter, and I stay pleasantly house-bound at Thanksgiving in order to have more time to travel at Christmas.
We’ve done it this way for more than a decade and love it.
While staying close to home has its benefits (stuffing the turkey in your PJs, refilling your wine glass knowing you have no where to go), an entire day spent turkey basting and football watching isn’t overly appealing to my 3-year-old.
So, if anyone finds themselves in the same Thanksgiving boat, here are some activities we plan to try this year to keep the kiddo happy and the adults more or less relaxed:
Enlist child labor
My husband is the primary chef of our Thanksgiving feast. It’s everyone else’s job to stay out of the way (and, eventually, do dishes). But there are a few areas where Ellie can help and stay momentarily busy. Last year she poured broth into the stuffing mix. This year she might move up to bread ripping and potato mashing.
Plan a craft
It’s hard to go wrong with the handprint turkey. Kids trace their hands on brown construction paper and color the fingers for feathers. Last year we made one for each guest and used them as table setting name tags. This year we might make a turkey using a stuffed brown paper lunch sacks or start a construction paper Christmas garland. The craft ideas are endless. Check out Pinterest for inspiration.
Get some fresh air
I know it’s easy for me to suggest this living in balmy Tucson, Ariz., but taking a quick walk, stroller ride or playing a game of tag or hide and seek is a nice way to break up the day and maybe prime the kids for a nap (always my goal).
Put in some FaceTime
Even if we can’t be with the people we love doesn’t mean we can’t say hi. Ellie loves showing her cousins all her toys via FaceTime or Skype and saying hi to Grandma’s puppies. Doing this on Thanksgiving has the extra benefit of saying hello to some extended family who might also be around.
Write or draw a menu
If your child is old enough, have him or her write out everything in your family’s Thanksgiving dinner. If your kiddo can’t yet write, have them draw pictures of turkeys, potatoes and cranberries. After dinner they can put a star by what they liked best (umm pie?). Write a date on the back and keep it from year-to-year.
Try something new
Even though Christmas is just around the corner, surprise your child or children with a new toy or game, such as a puzzle everyone can work on or a toy with some assembly required. Just make sure it’s easy enough for adults to do while simultaneously cheering on their team.
Gena is a Midwest transplant living in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Ellie. When not killing scorpions, Gena writes about food and family. Follow her on Twitter @genakittner, and check out her previous guest posts on Mommy Sanest.